A will is an essential part of any estate plan.  It is a legal document, signed by you, that allows you to do a number of things.  For example, it allows you to indicate any preferences you may have as to who will raise your minor children, who will receive your probate estate, who will act as your personal representative, and whether assets will be held in trust for any beneficiaries.  If you have accumulated any assets, then it is time to get a will.  It is especially important for any individuals with minor children so that you can ensure they are raised by the person of your choice.  If you die without a will, then a court appoints a personal representative to distribute your estate according to the laws of intestate succession.

It is important to note that a will does not avoid a probate proceeding.  To the contrary, a will controls the disposition of your probate estate.  A great deal of property can pass to your intended beneficiaries outside of a will without a probate proceeding.  Such property includes transfer on death (TOD) and payable on death (POD) accounts, life insurance proceeds and funds in retirement accounts if there are named beneficiaries on them, jointly owned property, and survivorship marital property.  Nevertheless, a will would still allow you to name guardians for minor children.  Additionally, a will may allow you to save on estate taxes in certain situations.  If you desire to avoid probate, then you might consider utilizing a revocable trust or speaking with our attorneys at Sturgul & Long to discuss other methods to avoid probate.

A will is nevertheless a very important document.  It is imperative to make certain that your will is legally enforceable and that it accurately states your wishes.  Whether you desire a simple or complex will, please feel free to contact Sturgul & Long for a consultation today. If your chief concern is avoiding probate, our attorneys at Sturgul & Long can also work with you to develop a probate avoidance plan.